Spread the love

French farmers block the Arc de Triomphe

Photo: Thomas Samson Agence France-Presse The irruption before dawn of agricultural machinery and bales of straw at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, a highly symbolic place and scene of violence during the popular “yellow vest” movement in 2018, reminded us of the wounds still present keen on the agricultural world.

Jean Liou – Agence France-Presse and Sofia Bouderbala – Agence France-Presse in Paris

1:56 p.m.

  • Europe

Surprise blockade of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, ministers whistled and targets of egg throwing: French farmers demonstrated again on Friday, a sign of anger, felt throughout Europe and which could return to France, stoked by union rivalries.

Road blockages have been lifted in the country since the beginning of February, and, even if President Emmanuel Macron's visit there was disrupted last Saturday, farmers largely took a break during the Agricultural Show , in Paris.

Since the start of the crisis in January, the government has promised more than 400 million euros in emergency aid, strengthening laws to protect farmers' income and even increasing the agriculture as a “major general interest”.

The executive also promised to ease constraints, particularly environmental ones, at the cost of concessions criticized by NGOs and scientists on pesticides.

After new announcements on floor prices and cash flow aid, the unions have a meeting with Emmanuel Macron in mid-March, before the presentation of a major agricultural orientation law in the spring.

But Friday's actions illustrate the capacity for initiative of the grassroots of the agricultural movement.

The irruption of tractors and straw bales before dawn at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, a highly symbolic place and scene of violence during the “yellow vest” crisis in 2018, is an example. According to the police headquarters, 66 people were arrested.

“We will not give up,” Véronique Le Floc’h, the president of the Rural Coordination (CR) at the origin of this undeclared demonstration, then told AFP.< /p>

Born in 1991 from a split with the majority union FNSEA, the Rural Coordination, accustomed to muscular actions, defends a French “agricultural exception” in a country of traditions, with a majority of small farmers whom it considers crushed by the free exchange.

Once the square was evacuated, shortly after 9:30 a.m., traffic resumed and a convoy of tractors took the road to the Palace of Versailles, where farmers installed around twenty tractors near the statue equestrian horse of Louis XIV, escorted by the police.

Also read

  • Macron heckled at the Agricultural Show

“Nothing is moving forward”

In the afternoon, the Ministers of Ecological Transition and Agriculture, Christophe Béchu and Marc Fesneau, were targeted with whistles and egg throwing at the Salon de l'Agriculture, which ends in two days.

They were forced to leave the stand of ADEME, the ecological transition agency, under police protection. The action was carried out by farmers claiming to be part of the departmental federation of the FNSEA of Seine-et-Marne (Paris region).

“We have noticed that for three weeks, nothing is moving forward,” said one of the participants. The boss of the Seine-et-Marne federation Cyrille Milard said he was not aware of this action, but understood the anger, even if he did not “condon” the throwing of eggs.

The management of the FNSEA, however, refuses to call for a new national mobilization after the Salon, as indicated to AFP by the number two of the majority union, Hervé Lapie, who favors working with the government.

“If we have to start union action again because it’s blocking us, we will do it. But I think that our objective is not to do union action for the sake of doing union action, to be visible,” he explained.

“What we want to see is the concrete translation. As I speak to you, we are not there yet,” underlined the president of the FNSEA, Arnaud Rousseau, alongside Christophe Béchu, after a meeting at the Salon. The minister took care to note that the blockade carried out by the CR in the morning was “the work of a minority union”.

At the end of the Show, “Sunday evening, everything will not be settled and everyone knows it,” declared Marc Fesneau, on France Bleu Occitanie.

At the forefront of the mobilization, alongside the FNSEA, the Young Farmers are also not considering returning to the streets at this stage.

“We have never broken the dialogue, we must continue to work,” their president Arnaud Gaillot told AFP, deploring “populism without solution” on the part of the Rural Coordination, who in turn accuse the FNSEA and JA of having contributed to the current crisis by co-managing the sector with the State.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116